The semi-finals of the men’s football tournament in the Olympics is all set to begin. Mexico takes on Japan while Brazil meets South Korea. We bring you the preview of the two matches.
Wembley Stadium, London
7th August 2012, 17:00 BST
Mexico has thrilled one and all with their brand of football so far. In the last match against Senegal, they were however taken to the extreme by a resilient side and needless to say, the match turned out to be the match of the tournament so far. While their attacking prowess has risen by leaps and bounds, their defence was tested thoroughly. Giovanni dos Santos and Morones was at their best as they ran all over the Senegal defence.
However, even after leading by two goals, they threw it away only to recover in the dying moments of the game. Their defence line-up so far has been the best in not leaking in goals, but uncharacteristically let in two within 7 minutes of the second half. However, this can be seen as a aberration and not the general trend as their earlier matches have shown. Or, are they finally crumbling under pressure? This is the time for Mexico to really rise above mediocrity and stake their claim as one of the best in the business.
Japan is the only team left in the tournament who has not leaked in any goals so far. Although their group stages saw only two goals, they came to life in the previous match as they squashed Egypt by a three-goal margin. Having qualified for the semi-finals after a gap of 44 years, the Blue Samurai are looking to take this all the way. Also having Korea as another semifinalist, Asia is atleast assured of an Olympic medal.
Japan has been pretty solid at the back, Suzuki and Sakai forming the core of their defence. Playing a standard 4-4-2 formation with the focus on Ohgihara, Yamaguchi and Otsu, Japan has controlled the game from the centre of the park. Their modus operandi seems to revolve around a resolute defence followed by a fast counter-attack. With players moving in both wings, they stretch the field of play.
When two teams such as these two go head to head, it is indeed a treat to the spectators and the sport in general. It will be a tight affair but Japan might just surprise Mexico.
Mexico Probable Starting Line-up : Corona(GK); Salcido, Nañez, Alanís, Rosales, Chávez; Carmona, Rubio; Morones, Dos Santos, de la Mora
Japan Probable Starting Line-up: Gonda(GK); Yoshida, Suzuki, Sakai, Tokunaga; Kiyotake, Higashi, Yamaguchi, Ohgihara; Otsu, Nagai
Players To Watch out For : Dos Santos (Mexico), Ohgihara (Japan)
Prediction : Mexico 1-2 Japan (AET)
Old Trafford, Manchester
7th August 2012, 19:45 BST
Brazil arrived in the Olympics 2012 as one of the favourites to claim their very first Olympic Gold Medal. As the tournament has progressed their focus has not waned and they have continued to crumble and batter their opponents into submission. Except in the quarter-final against Honduras. Stunned early on for the second time in two matches, Brazil played catch-up and tied the scores 2-2.
Honduras were already a man down with Crisanto booked for the second time inside one minute. However, Brazil gained the lead later on through Damiao. What is really refreshing to see in this Brazilian squad is the amazing depth of talent. If one player has been substituted, he will be replaced with an equally superb if not superior player. Case in point – Pato.
However, Brazil have their own share of problems going into this match. Damiao, Sandro, Romulo and Oscar are already on a booking and any more will see them missing out for the finals. Menezes will have to rotate his squad for this match and test his bench strength. Goal-scoring is not a problem for Brazil any more with Neymar possibly in the form of his life. The Santos prodigy has made his mark with his breath-taking displays and amazing goals. If he is not scoring goals, he plays the perfect provider. Oscar will testify the last fact given his brilliantly taken goal against Belarus.
Korea has huffed and puffed their way into the semifinals of Olympics 2012. While their first match of the tournament showed enough glimpses of their talent, the subsequent scorelines have not justified the above fact. They have misfired more than once and were lucky to scrape past Great Britain in their previous match.
The only weapon in Korea’s arsenal which is working right now seems to be their electrifying pace all over the pitch. They play a high-energy game all the time and although it helps in maintaining pressure on their opponents, they fail to make their advantage count due to the lack of goals. With the other Asian team in the fray, it might turn out to be a battle between Korea and Japan for the Bronze medal.
Brazil let their guard down in their last match but knows very well that in order to secure their first ever Olympic gold, they need to continue playing the champagne football that they are renowned for.
Brazil Probable Starting Line-up: Gabriel; Rafael, Silva, Juan, Marcelo; Sandro, Romulu, Ganso, Hulk; Neymar, Pato
Korea Probable Starting Line-up: Sung-Ryong(GK); Chang-Soo Kim, Young-Gwon Kim, Seok-Ho Hwang, Suk-Young Yun; Koo Ja-Cheol, Ki Sung-Yueng, Nam Tae-Hee, Dong-Won Ji, Jong-Woo Park; Park Chu-Young
Players To Watch out For : Neymar (Brazil), Hulk (Brazil); Dong-Won Ji (Korea)
Prediction : Brazil 3-0 Korea